Biking for sustainability

Cristina Rucchetta

Photo by Cristina Rucchetta.

In order to help reduce greenhouse gasses on the Wilfrid Laurier University campus, the sustainability office opened a new secure bike-storage area behind MacDonald House residence in mid-June.

“We had identified [biking] as a high needs area; there was not a lot going on in alternative transportation,” explained Claire Bennett, Laurier’s sustainability coordinator. “Riding bikes rather than cars will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

This project, Bennett stated, is not being done in conjunction with the recent partnership between WLU and Sustainable Waterloo.

“This was a specific project that I targeted to complete,” she explained.

Students and faculty must sign up to use the facility, which costs $8.00 per semester to use. It is a pro-rated price, however, so those signing up at a later date will pay less. It’s also based on a first-come-first-serve basis, since the facility, as of now, can only hold 23 bikes.

According to Bennett, only one student has registered so far.

“We’re hoping that it’s well used,” she stated, emphasizing that there is less traffic on campus during the summer, so it should pick up once September begins.

The idea for the bike-storage facility was brought to Bennett’s attention by a concerned student who felt there was nowhere to safely store her bike. Bennett explained that after conducting an e-mail survey of staff and faculty, the proposal drew shown support and was put into action.

“It was a perfect area already, because it was just this under-utilized area that was already covered,” explained Bennett. “It already had three areas covered, so we just had to put fencing up on either side, and then get the bike racks themselves … which we sourced locally.”

The area also includes a security camera and special lighting for the nightime to ensure that both the bikes and their owner’s remain safe.

If the facility is successful in the upcoming semesters, Bennett explained, the sustainability office will look to create more secure areas for bike storage around campus. Ideally, they would like to build one in a residence building.

“In buildings, in residence, there is no where for people to put their bikes,” she stated.

If they do expand, Bennett emphasized that new areas will be built into already existing buildings.

She explained the new facility worked out because it fit into the already present environment, so future projects should be integrated as well.